Sunday, 25 July 2010

The CWA New Blood Dagger Shortlist

What would induce me to get up at 5.30 in the morning? The mystery grew darker as I hurried to catch the first train up to London. Was I going on holiday? No, although the reason for my excursion begins with the same letter… Sorry, as a crime writer I tend to think in ‘clues’, but without more ado, I’ll come clean and confess: I was travelling to Harrogate as an invited guest at the ITV3 Crime Thriller Season Launch Ceremony sponsored by Specsavers.
The shortlist for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger was announced at a lunchtime ceremony at the The Crown Hotel, Harrogate during the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. This award is made in memory of CWA founder John Creasey, for first books by previously unpublished writers.
CWA Chairman Tom Harper said: “The CWA Dagger Awards have always enjoyed huge prestige among crime fiction fans and authors. The shortlists this year are incredibly strong, and that for the John Creasey has some exciting new talents, all working at the top of their game.”
The shortlisted books:
Acts of Violence, Ryan David Jahn (Pan)
Cut Short, Leigh Russell (No Exit Press)
Martyr, Rory Clements (John Murray)
Random, Craig Robertson (Simon & Schuster)
Stop Me, Richard Jay Parker (Allison & Busby)
Rupture, Simon Lelic (Picador)
The Holy Thief, William Ryan (Mantle )
The Pull of the Moon, Diane Janes (Robinson)

And if you haven’t worked it out yet – check the second book on the list.

At the risk of sounding conceited, I'm feeling pleased with myself, as you can see in the photo on the right (courtesy of Ali Karim.)
In this photo (left) from Harrogate I'm flanked by two Giants of Crime Fiction, Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham (and I was wearing my highest heels...) If you've met them, you'll know they are not only brilliant writers but very entertaining company.

The Daggers will be awarded at a televised ceremony in the Autumn, as part of the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards, details of which were also announced at the ceremony at Harrogate.
CWA Chairman Tom Harper (pictured) said: “The CWA Dagger Awards have always enjoyed huge prestige among crime fiction fans and authors. The shortlists this year are incredibly strong, from exciting new talents to established masters, all working at the top of their game. We’re thrilled with the way Cactus TV and ITV3 have embraced the Daggers to bring them to the widest possible audience. Together with the retail promotion, more people than ever are now getting the chance to discover the best crime writing in the UK.”
The CWA Dagger Awards are the longest established literary awards in the UK and are internationally recognised as a mark of excellence and achievement.
So I was there to hear my name read out as one of the eight authors shortlisted for the John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award.
Was I excited? What do you think! Excited, proud, and completely stunned.

I'm very pleased we took some photos, or I don't think I'd believe this is really happening. Here I am with Linda Regan, a fellow Mystery Woman.
And finally, a big thank you to my publisher for opening these doors for me.
Now - back to Geraldine Steel. I have another book to write, and my fictional world seems more believable than my life right now!
But before I go, here's CUT SHORT... Did I mention it's been shortlisted for the CWA 2010 John Creasey New Bloood Dagger Award?

Friday, 23 July 2010

CUT SHORT short listed for CWA DAGGER

I'm thrilled to share the news that CUT SHORT has been shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Daggger Award!
I am, for once, at a loss for words! Well, almost...
I'll tell you more about my whirlwind visit to Harrogate, and post some photos of me (yes, me!) rubbing shoulders with some of the greats, very soon. I've even thought of a caption for one of the photos - 'Leigh between two Giants of Crime Fiction' (Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham are both much taller than me... still looking hobbit-like even in my heels, alas) - and there you have a clue as to two of the people I met on my amazing visit to Harrogate. If I wasn't myself, I'd be quite jealous of me... (note to aforementioned self - must rewrite this tomorrow when sober)

Here's what the judges said about CUT SHORT
Judges’ comments: A book that combines psychological writing with police procedural. A police detective in search of sanctuary finds herself involved in a vicious case of murder. Strong story-telling draws the reader in to this disturbing debut novel that uses settings from Christie with a much darker plot line.

I'm off book signing at WH Smith's in Harrow tomorrow (Saturday is book signing day - you know me!) but I will post more over the weekend.

I'm also dreadfully excited (!!) because I now have the outline for my 4th book... I know ROAD CLOSED has just been published and that was only my 2nd, but I've delivered the draft of DEAD END to my publisher (publication 2011)... and whatever else is going on, I can't stop writing...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A Writer on Holiday

I'm on holiday from school but as Eugene Ionesco said, "A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing." That sounds fair enough to me. So in the first week of my 'holiday' I've signed CUT SHORT and ROAD CLOSED at Waterstones in Norwich, given a a talk about my writing to a lovely book group at Kenton Library, tomorrow I'm going to Central London to be interviewed about ROAD CLOSED for BFK Books, the following day I'm going to Heffers in Cambridge for their annual Bodies in the Bookshop event, and my book week ends with signing on Saturday at a Mystery Women event at LFCC in Earls Court. Next week begins with a talk about ROAD CLOSED to Watford Writers Circle, then I'm giving a talk at Yiewsley Library, paying a visit to Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate and signing at WH Smith's in Harrow. And so it goes on.

I haven't forgotten about my writing... today I sent my first draft of DEAD END to my publisher (for publication 2011) and I'm already working on the synopsis for the following book. Its title is currently under wraps!

I know I ought to slow down. This is hardly a dignified life for a middle-aged woman, but... I'm having such fun! Ain't no stopping me now.

Seriously, I will be taking a break soon. I'm going on holiday. But you can be sure I'll be packing a few notebooks and pens... and I must finish my synopsis before I go...

And to finish off, here's a photo with some of the book group at Kenton Library, taken by one of the librarians.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

How do you plan your writing?

I haven't posted for a while as I've been recklessly busy. One day I'm going to turn up at the wrong bookstore on the wrong day! In the ten days since my last post, I've signed a lot of books - at Waterstones in Hitchin, Waterstones in Harrow, and WH Smith's in Brent Cross. Tomorrow I'm on a panel of Crime Writers at Gayton Library in Harrow, then off to sign at Waterstones in Norwich on Saturday.
ROAD CLOSED officially launched this week.
DEAD END, which will be published in 2011, is with my small circle of readers who are beginning to feed back comments. There's still a little more work to do on the manuscript - and I really need to sit down for a couple of days and read through it closely but also fast so I have every detail in my head. I'll tackle that task after I've broken up from school next week as I want to give it its due.
I've decided on the title for my fourth book in the series - but you'll have to wait and see what that is. This week I've been working out the plot and am getting very very excited about it. I can't wait to finish the synopsis my agent wisely insists on so I can start writing it. In the meantime, I haven't even finished my plan yet - but my research is under way and my plan is moving forward.
Having completed three books, I feel like quite an old hand now! So this is how I work.
1) make a sketchy plan on A3 paper. I divide the sheet into five columns, one for each part of my book, and I list the chapters down the columns, a chapter name and very brief notes to remind me what the chapter is about.
2) write a chapter by chapter synopsis from my plan, giving details
3) write the book
That should be it, but of course there's more
4) realise something doesn't work - rethink and rewrite
5) have a brainwave - rethink and rewrite
6) notice a dreadful gap (or gaffe) in the plot and have to revise completely...
That's just the initial stages of writing a book. Then come the agent, publisher and editor... and more rethinking and rewriting...
So forgive me if I don't post for a while. You know what I'll be doing, when I'm not at school.
So far I'm at number 1) and have already radically changed the whole idea twice. Now I've come up with an idea that I'm happy with, I need to complete my A3 plan... How will Geraldine solve the mystery? Is there enough suspense in the plan? Who, exactly, is my killer - there are so many possible characters I could create to play the villain here, but who shall I choose? And what is in store for Geraldine in book 4?
I wonder how other people plan their books?